About Julie Coiro

New Literacies and Reading Comprehension

presented by Julie Coiro

Anticipation Guide for Today's Discussion:

Created by Julie Coiro

Directions: Show that you agree or disagree with each statement by marking an X in the correct column. Justify your positiong by writing a comment or response to the statement in the blank space. You'll then have time to discuss your opinions with others in your group. You may add questions and statements as the lesson progresses.

Anticipatory Statement
    Learners who successfully comprehend and construct information presented in books can read just as successfully on the Internet without acquiring any  new literacy skills. 

Supporting Statement: 

    The nature of information on the Internet greatly impacts reading comprehension instruction and assessment in elementary school.   

Supporting Statement: 

    Monastic learners (those who prefer to work alone) will be disadvantaged as literacy learning with technology becomes increasingly dependant on social strategies. 

Supporting Statement: 

    Professional development is most effective when topics and strategies are defined by school administrators rather than built upon the “grassroots concerns” of classroom teachers.   

Supporting Statement: 

    Reading for information on the Internet requires the same types of inferential reading skills as reading for information in a textbook.    

Supporting Statement: 

    The new skills of “visual literacy”, “media literacy”, “critical literacy” and “informational literacy” should be incorporated into everyday classroom literacy instruction at all grade levels. 

Supporting Statement:            

Engaging students in constructing electronic and multimedia texts will foster better comprehension skills. 

Supporting Statement:      

Today's discussion will be guided by the following questions:
  1. What are your experiences and beliefs about literacy and technology?
  2. What are new literacies?
  3. How do Internet technologies impact the way we teach and assess reading comprehension?
  4. What challenges does the Internet present?
  5. What are students saying?  
  6. What are teachers saying?
  7. What are your thoughts? 

Expanding our Understanding of Reading Comprehension to Encompass New Literacies
by Julie Coiro
It is my belief that important questions about reading comprehension on the Internet need to be addressed if we are to effectively prepare students for their literacy futures.  In this article, I  examine more closely the skills and abilities needed to interact with text on the Internet while exploring the answers to four questions: 
The outline is framed with the same elements of the RAND Report, but I’ve included different skills specifically related to new literacies required from the Internet and other ICT.

graphical map of this outline
A.    Broadened Understandings of Text:
B.    Broadened Understandings of the Reader:
C.    Broadened Understandings of the Reading Activity:
D.    Broadened Understandings of the Social Context:
Read complete article at:
Coiro, J. (2003).  Reading on the Internet:  Expanding our Understanding of Reading Comprehension to Encompass New Literacies.  The Reading Teacher, 56, 458-464.  Available online at

Principles of the New Literacies Perspective

Leu, D.J. Jr., Kinzer, C.K., Coiro, J., & Cammack, D. (in press).  Toward a Theory of New Literacies Emerging from the Internet and other ICT. R. Ruddell and Norman Unrau (Eds.) Theoretical models and processes of reading (5th ed.).  Newark, DE: International Reading Association

Literacy is always defined by the forms and functions of the cultural contexts in which they emerge.  Historically, you can see how literacy has changed and evolved, becoming more complex and globally defined.

Literacy Through the Ages
Image created by Julie Coiro (2003)

"The new literacies of the Internet include the skills, strategies, and dispositions necessary to successfully use and adapt to the rapidly changing information and communication technologies and contexts that continuously emerge in our world and influence all areas of our personal and professional lives. These new literacies allow us to use the Internet and other ICT to identify important problems, locate information, analyze the usefulness of that information, synthesize information to solve problems, and communicate the solutions to others."
  1. The Internet and other ICT are central technologies for literacy within a global community in an information age.
  2. The Internet and other ICT require new literacies to fully access their potential.
  3. New literacies are deictic (having an ever-changing meaning determined by context; forms & functions regularly change over time due to new technologies, transformations and new envisionments). 
  4. The relationship between literacy and technology is transactional  ("when we use technology in new ways we also transform the technology itself, creating additional new literacies in the process") 
  5. New literacies are multiple in nature (multiple media, tools and contexts) 
  6. Critical literacies are central to the new literacies (critical thinking as consumers of information)
  7. New forms of strategic knowledge are central to the new literacies (hypertext, visual processing, virtual worlds, real-time discussions) 
  8. Speed counts in important ways within the new literacies.
  9. Learning is often socially constructed within new literacies (each will offer something unique to the social knowledge building for the benefit of the group through social constructivist methods) 

Critical Literacies on the Internet

Coiro, J. (in press).  Rethinking comprehension strategies to better prepare students for critically evaluating content on the Internet.  Journal of the New England Reading Association. 
Traditional informational texts for young readers are written in a familiar textbook format, pass through several editing processes, represent a finite amount of information bound within the covers of a book, and are full of images and related information designed primarily for the purposes of informing or elaborating.  In contrast, I argue that Internet texts are often constructed with inconsistent features, pass through few editing processes, represent an infinite amount of links to related information, and are often designed to sell, deceive, or persuade young readers.  As educators, we need to help students become more aware of these differences and how and when to appropriately apply traditional comprehension strategies or develop new ones to comprehend what they read on the Internet. 

The nature of text on the Internet poses several challenges to reading comprehension: 
a.    Little consistency in multimedia formatting of information
b.    Little in the way of quality control of information that is constructed and communicated
c.    Amount of information [“info-garbage”] can be overwhelming
d.    Many resources are out of date or have not been updated for years
e.    Digital manipulation is a popular form of deception
f.    Information for kids is intertwined with hidden social, economic and political agendas

Examine this photo using the History as Investigation Worksheet in your handouts (in case you don't have online access, view the photo here).  Source: American Memory Digital Library

Investigating how strategic readers use predicting strategies while reading on the Internet
(Julie Coiro and Elizabeth Schmar)

We know a great deal about what good readers do as they read within traditional text environments (Allington, 2001).  Research has confirmed that proficient readers actively construct meaning using a small set of powerful meta-cognitive comprehension strategies (Pearson, Roehler, Dole, and Duffy, 1992; Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995), one of which is making predictions (Duke & Pearson, 2002; Hansen & Pearson, 1983). However, much less is known about how students use strategies such as predicting as they read within electronic environments such as the Internet.  The purpose of our study is to seek and describe the specific strategies that sixth-grade students use to make predictions as they search for and read informational texts on the Internet. 

Visit the 5Tigers Informational Website and Yahooligans Web Guide for Kids

Constructing Concept Maps to Enhance Comprehension

Work with your group to connect all of the concepts in one map and be prepared to summarize your group's representation of your understanding of the topic. 

Example A: Abe Lincoln, Young PioneerPioneer Concept Map
Example B: The Plains Indians
Indian Vocab Concept Map

This page created by Julie Coiro on June 11, 2003